Duluth Denfeld senior captain Wryott Gerson wasn't happy with himself while competing last week at a track meet in Cambridge, Minn.
Conditions were a little wet, and Gerson tripped on his first attempt in the triple jump, settling for a distance of about 43 feet. While most high school jumpers would be more than happy with that, Gerson wasn't.
"Before my second jump, I told myself, 'I have to get a redemption jump for this,' " Gerson said. "And with everyone watching, all of a sudden, boom."
Gerson leapt 47 feet, 1 inch, again breaking his own school record.
Yep, you could say he's ahead of last year's pace. More like, he's picking up where he left off after he finished second at the Class AA state meet last June with a mark of 45-2.75.
"All my goals, I already beat them," Gerson said.
Gerson has improved so quickly he has to adjust his goals on the fly, even surprising himself along the way.
"Definitely," Gerson said.
A state championship or even two is within reach. He is the defending Lake Superior Conference and Section 7AA champion in the 100 and 200 meters, long jump and triple jump, adding a third-place state finish in the long jump.
Denfeld coach Greg Goman is done being surprised.
"He's a football guy, he's a basketball guy, he's an athlete," Goman said. "The thing I like about him is that he's really starting to coach himself in ways, too. He's really paying attention to details, and it's paying off for him.
"I think last year he started to figure out what he could do. This was a way to get some attention from colleges, and he's really taken it seriously. He shows up every day and works his tail off."
Gerson admits he is behind on his college search, but he definitely wants to compete in track and field. He could be a decathlete, as there doesn't seem to be anything he can't do.
Gerson broke his own school record in the triple jump his first two meets this season, capped by the 47-1 at Cambridge. That is more than 3 feet better than the Hunters' previous record prior to Gerson's arrival (Dave Gelineau, 42-8.75, 1984). Gerson's 22-6 last year in the long jump also broke the school record (Bob Thornton, 22-1, 1995).
"If he wasn't on colleges' radar before, he better be now," Goman said.
Goman said among male athletes, the most recent local example to what Gerson is doing is that of Duluth Central's Rolando Peco, who in 2000 won the Class AA 100 and 200 and finished second by an inch in the long jump.
"This isn't something we see every 10 years," Goman said.
The 6-foot-3 Gerson is also a good high jumper, clearing 6-2 on Tuesday. He didn't start doing triple jump until late last season. Now, it's his future.
"I'm not going to be like, 'I'm the best here,' " Gerson said. "My sophomore year, I wasn't that good, but I grew a lot my junior year, and that can happen to a lot of people. I still don't know if I'm done growing."
The same could be said of his jumping career.
Best of the rest
Denfeld, in addition to Gerson, has a strong senior class looking to move up in the LSC and section team standings.
Fellow senior captains Julian Beckrich and Sebastian Haugen lead a strong mid-distance group that also includes senior Dominic Miller, junior Jack McCormick and sophomore Isaac Fink. Junior Grant Steger looks strong in the shot and disc, while senior Dominic Klaas will anchor the spring relays. Senior captain Connor Feyen is one of the more versatile athletes in the area, competing in the hurdles, pole vault, triple jump and shot put.
Denfeld hosted a meet on a sunny Tuesday at Public Schools Stadium. The track will be redone after the Hunters' Kero Invite in May.
Duluth East returns junior sprinter Derek Daniels and sophomore jumper David Ierino.
Superior sprinter Carter Fonger appears to be the real deal. He's built like a football player, because he is (he plays running back). The sophomore is explosive, losing by only .01 to Gerson on Tuesday in the 100 (11.4 to 11.41). He won the 55 dash at Stout earlier this spring, topping a field of 70-plus boys, and his coach, Kris Leopold, says has a legit 4.5 time in the 40. His father still holds the Spartans' 300 hurdles record, a 39.3 clocking in 1981. Others to watch include senior Steven Pearson (200, jumps), and versatile junior Jarrett Gronski. Leopold called Gronski the most talented boy he has coached in 22 years, with his brother Gunnar being a very close second.
Proctor has a very young team with only four seniors but overall numbers are up, with 52 athletes. Senior Carter Fuchs is only in his second year of track but is already a leader in the 400 and 800. He was a member of the Rails' state-qualifying 1,600 relay last season. Sophomores Nolan Mehle and John Werner also were part of that relay. Mehle finished fourth in the open 400 at sections last year. Werner played football in the fall but also made the state cross country meet and is off to a great start this season.
Cloquet has a returning state place winner in the triple jump in senior Alex Leuzzo, who is also a very good hurdler. Senior Blaine Bong is a returning state qualifier in the 400, while Riley Leslie and Andre Peters (sprints), Jordan Allen and Jesse Bahen (distance) and Luke Koneitzko (throws) are also back.
Esko brings back seniors Sam Rengo and Luke Bourgeault, and junior Aaron Moore from the Eskomos' state-qualifying 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relays.
Two Harbors returns senior Wyatt Haugan, junior Noah Smith and sophomore Isaac Swanson from its state-qualifying 3,200 relay. That team, which included Jake Paron, now running at Augustana, set a school record in 8:19.15.
Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin has one of the top distance runners in the state in sophomore Geno Uhrbom. After finishing third in the Class A 3,200 and seventh in the 1,600 last season, Uhrbom went on to capture the Class A cross country championship last fall. Junior state qualifying high jumper Dylan DeChampeau also returns.
Grand Rapids has three runners back from its Class AA qualifying 400 relay: senior Kameron Jaeger and sophomores Caden Hofstad and Wade Brouse.
Moose Lake-Willow River returns senior Danny Lilya, the defending Class A champion in the wheelchair shot put.
Northwestern continues its tradition of quality pole vaulters, with Ethan Jensen and Willem Hoegen already clearing 11-6 this spring.
Carlton returns senior Jayden Swanson, a state qualifier in the triple jump.
South Ridge has a strong throwing group in seniors Jayton Nelson and Matt Kilbourn and sophomores Deekon Anvid and Matt Bober. Newcomer Ian Sherman, a senior, has posted strong performances in the long and high jump.
Cromwell-Wright returns senior Cameron Cahoon and junior Ben Hansen from the Cardinals' school record and state-placing 400 relay team.
Barnum has a state qualifier in senior Samuel Goodwin (shot put), while Floodwood returns senior state qualifier Wyatt Rauvola (1,600).
Cook County has senior state qualifier Jack Haussner (110 hurdles), while Deer River-Northland has senior state qualifier Connor Daudt (800).
Virginia eighth-grader Cameron Stocke finished 13th at the Class A cross country championships last fall and won the 1,600 at Tuesday's Two Harbors Invitational in 4:34.17.
Mesabi East returns sophomore Gavin Skelton, seventh in the Class A 300 hurdles last season.
Ely has some athletes, as evidenced by the Timberwolves' victory Tuesday at the 15-team Two Harbors Invitational. The Section 7A runners-up are led by junior James Schwinghamer, who finished seventh in the Class A 3,200. Junior Luke Olson, who finished seventh at the Class A cross country meet last fall, bolsters a strong distance group that includes Emmet Faltesek, Gabriel Pointer and exchange student Kjetl Midtunn. Junior Eric Omerza leads in the jumping events and senior Josiah Wigdahl and junior Nate Nettifee in the throwing events.